Health and Medicine

Navajo Nation: The people battling America’s worst coronavirus outbreak

BBC

When Valentina Blackhorse tested positive for coronavirus, she texted her sister and told her not to worry.

A former pageant queen, Valentina was known for her love of her Native American Navajo heritage, her passion for helping others and her playful sense of humour. She doted on her one-year-old daughter, Poet, and worked as a government administrator, with dreams of leading her people some day as Navajo president.

When coronavirus reached the reservation on which she lived, Valentina warned her family to stay indoors and take precautions. Weeks later her boyfriend Bobby fell ill and she tended to him at their home in Kayenta, a small town near the sandstone buttes of Arizona’s Monument Valley.

She’d lived with rheumatoid arthritis her whole life, but soon her joint pain started to feel different, and breathing wasn’t so easy. She took herself for a test and the results came back a week later, confirming her fears. The next day, when Valentina’s breathing got worse, Bobby rushed her to a health clinic. She died hours later, aged 28.

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